Much as we love the BMW 3 Series and respect what it stands for, we’ve grown weary of unceasing attempts to copy it. Here on the left, a Japanese 3 Series. On the right, an American version. The new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, with its relaxed manner, quiet ride, and impeccable quality, cuts a new path. It doesn’t try to be a 3 Series; rather, it succeeds at being a Mercedes.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class’ elegant exterior styling makes clear to everyone what you’re driving even if you don’t opt for the stand-up three-pointed star. (These days, most C-Class buyers don’t.) Its smooth curves and simple lines follow the same less-is-more approach taken by the Mercedes S-Class Coupe.
Sporty and elegant: The interior, like every aspect of the C-Class, looks and feels luxurious in a way that most competitors do not.
The resemblance to more expensive Mercedes models doesn’t end when you open the door. “The cabin is thoroughly pleasant, luxurious, and comfortable,” design editor Robert Cumberford said. Many sedans at this price level provide the veneer of premium, but the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class ensconces you in it, with excellent materials and solid switchgear. Some of us are still not sold on the stand-up touchscreen, but it frees the rest of the dash of techno clutter.
The word “smooth” pops up repeatedly in our discussions about the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Like its big brother, the S-Class, the C-Class performs with a distinctive grace and effortlessness, particularly when it’s equipped with adjustable air springs. That’s not to say it’s a Barcalounger. Even with the base four-cylinder, the C-Class bounds through curves and swallows up autobahn. A bonkers AMG C63 arrives in showrooms this spring. Yet the C-Class doesn’t attempt to carve every last corner like a 328i with a sport suspension — and that’s OK.
These virtues bear out the cleverness of Mercedes’ latest product strategy. The compact, front-wheel-drive CLA-Class debuted last year and freed the C-Class to grow into a true luxury car. The base price for the C-Class has accordingly risen to $39,325, from about $35,000 on the last-generation model. And, naturally, you can option a C-Class to the moon. The real difference is that the C-Class actually feels worthy of a $45,000 or $55,000 window sticker.
That difference now puts the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class at the head of its segment. Yes, it tops even the mighty 3 Series, not to mention all the 3 Series wannabes. As associate Web editor Eric Weiner noted, “The C-Class feels like a complete vehicle that’s comfortable in its own luxurious identity.” In other words, it feels like a Mercedes.
Read about the other 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars:
- Alfa Romeo 4C
- BMW i8
- BMW 2 Series
- Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
- Ford Mustang
- Honda Fit
- Lamborghini Huracán
- Subaru WRX/WRX STI
- Volkswagen Golf GTI
2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Specifications
- Base price: $39,325-$49,515
- As-tested price: $51,970
- Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/241 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 273 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,000 rpm; 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/329 hp @ 5,250-6,000 rpm, 354 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,000 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD/AWD sedan
- EPA Mileage (city/highway/combined): 24/31/27 mpg (C300 4Matic); 21/29/24 mpg (C400 4Matic)
Click here to read about all the 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Star awards.